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February 2015

Rock and Roll May Be on Life Support but Legends Never Die

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“So sometimes it’s the sand in the oyster that creates the pearl. You need some irritation. You need some repression or some conflict. And my life would have been much less satisfying if I didn’t know that.” Hugh Hefner

From his mouth to God’s ears Neil Strauss has been eighteen-years-old for more than two decades doing his job by asking questions of his entertainment idols, other figures that are too damn interesting to pass up, and some that begrudgingly must be done. Throughout his twenty or so years in the industry he admits that he lost focus of what was most important, he needs redemption, this book is his testament. You get the highly-celebrated celebrities, the one-hit wonders, the reluctant stars, and many more. One common theme among them all is a sense of vulnerability, but the passion for art and expression supercedes it all. 228 of the best singular moments of a rock and roll journalists career are included in this retrospective and it gives a glimpse into the minds of your favourite celebrities. The curtain is magically drawn for him to enter, but not immediately granted with a glass of wine, a joint, and a red carpet, he earns the rite with his scope of knowledge, his inability to hold back any punches, his personal integrity, and of course let’s not forget he does work for Rolling Stone Magazine.

I was watching Mary Herron’s director’s commentary on the much talked about movie American Psycho and was left entertained and interested as Patrick Bateman delivered his monologues of different artists from Huey Lewis & The News, to Phil Collins, to Whitney Houston before he went through with his devious deeds. 80’s music is a very important aspect to his time on earth and something that makes him seem like less of a martian as he wakes up, makes himself up, and goes about his day-to-day. He briskly walks into work listening to I’m Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves after a night filled with murder, wine, cheese, and small token conversation. As his inhumanity overcomes any chance for likeability his love of music never wavers and I naturally felt compelled to finally read Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead, a book that has taken on dust on my shelves for quite some time. This book details the emotions behind the art and how interpretations can vary. Thank you Patrick Bateman for the inspiration:)

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Here are some interesting points from the book of revelations that I would like to mention. Marilyn Manson reminds us that ‘it’s the users who make the abusers look bad’. Julian Casablancas is the best representation of the phrase “it’s not you, it’s me”. Riding in cars with Doggz during the rising tension of the East vs. West war. Chris Rock philosophizes about crack cocaine and the ghetto, Johnny Cash about violence. What you find out is that most of these celebrities need to channel their inner Elsa from Frozen and just let it go. Fame isn’t the cure-all for life’s problems. With fame and money your problems take on a new life all their own. If these issues are not addressed they will fester until the point of paralysis. Balance can be achieved through self-awareness, being honest with yourself, the taking on of new things that bring you out of your comfort zone, and eliminating the outside noise. One final thing is to be like Bieber and never say never, grand statements will only make you look dumb in the future. Although these words of wisdom are a direct reflection of celebrity life, many people grinding out a living can benefit from these important principles.

“The weirdest thing about being really successful is that you are kind of ready to die. Especially now I’ve got kids. I mean, I want to live. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m not in fear of dying. I’ve made my mark. Death is the enemy of my family-of my wife and my daughters. But to me as an artist, it’s actually my friend.” Chris Rock

My favourite entries included Ike Turner and his “Felony Idol” experience, Lady Gaga being very “open” to anything, the relatable Liam Gallagher, the incomparable Twiggy Ramirez, the insane reality that is Antoinette K-Doe, the mass stupidity that is Paris Hilton, down to earth Stephen Colbert, and the humbled Chris Rock. Something about Chris Rock that I always appreciated was that at a recent awards show, every A-list presenter was extremely nervous, fumbling over words, screwing up punch lines, had negative comedic presence, and/or were very robotic. It seemed as if the disease was spreading with no stopping it, that is until Chris Rock was called to the stage. He had no sidekick or prop or anything accompanying him, it was just him, and he came up and looked around, almost with a sense of exasperation that these “actors” can’t even deliver lines knowing they get paid millions of dollars to do something to that effect. If the Oscar’s are the equivalent to the Super Bowl than the majority failed to execute on something they were practicing in the mirror as children. Anyway Chris Rock just killed it and it was amazing to see a person just have such a presence and understanding that in the grand scheme of things this means nothing, and it showed. The reason that this resonated with me is that I have a fear of public speaking, stage fright, and a bad case of fremdscham(look it up) and Chris Rock gave me a perspective that I will never forget and in Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead you understand why Chris Rock is such an ice-cold professional and a level-headed human being.

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The author does give the perception that he is God’s gift to effective communication and getting the answers he wants. His lack of humility is apparent as he constantly tells the reader that so and so doesn’t do interviews for just anyone, or the inventor of rock and roll has only done four or five interviews throughout his forty year career but he’ll do one with me. I get it, you’re talented, have great backing, target the right material, mention sex and the supernatural, but at least have some sort of modesty. It’s one thing to have an ego while securing and conducting the interview process, it is another thing to have that demonstrated to the humble reader. Besides that one issue I really don’t have many negative comments to say about the author or the novel. This is a book that took me a while to finish, simply based on the number of interviews not based on the content. This is a collection of the best moments of an extensive catalogue of interviews, a greatest hits anthology if you will, and I must say that I never objected to picking the book back up where I left off and continue reading, it’s just that periodic breaks were very necessary. I don’t see why anyone would hate this book, so if you are a music lover like me, or if you are interested in jacking up your Playlist (Gary Wilson, New York Dolls anyone) then I recommend this book to you.

“I haven’t heard anything new that I’ve liked on the show. A lot of the bands we play with are just bad, especially those alternative rock bands. They can do it in the studio but they can’t play live… I see the audience applauding while they’re playing, and I wonder if it’s just because they’re fans of the band and don’t care, or out of spite. Because it certainly isn’t because they sound good” Branford Marsalis

 

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